Professional anglers will tell you, sharp hooks are critical to catching fish.

There are several ways to sharpen hooks, but they basically are variables on two themes - a tapered point and a designed point. You can go either way, but sharpen every hook one way or the other.There are mechanical sharpeners which will produce needle points that are needle sharp.

"The needle is the natural shape in nature. If it weren't the best way to puncture, animals wouldn't have evolved needle-shaped incisor teeth," according to Doug Hannon, who recommends the Hook Hone, a battery operated sharpener.

It puts a needle-sharp point on any hook in seconds.

John Juranitch, president of Razor Edge Systems, edge consultants from Ely, Minn., recommends the designed hook, with three cutting edges which cut into the bone of a fish's jaw. A three-sided point, with a flat face on the stem side of the point, "attacks any surface it touches," he said.

He recommends sharpening the three faces to create the three sharp cutting edges.

In addition, Juranitch said, it is critical that the point of the hook face the direction of travel. The point should be in line with the shank of the hook, not curved in toward it, or pointed to a side.